Knowledge Sharing in International NGOs

By Helena Heizmann.

Published by The Organization Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

While particularly larger development organisations have taken up ideas from corporate sector knowledge management (KM) in order to tackle the common issues of knowledge loss or data overload, the role of KM in shaping the broader directions of development work has been limited so far. For international NGOs (INGOs) who have incorporated KM into their operational frameworks, facilitating knowledge sharing between their multiple internal and external stakeholders remains a fundamental challenge. Through discussing alternative viewpoints from the KM literature, this paper seeks to broaden the perspective this subject has hitherto received in the development sector. Drawing on the case of the Swiss INGO Helvetas, it discusses shortcomings and constraints in the area of knowledge sharing as informed by the Foucauldian view on power/knowledge relations. The paper argues in particular that INGOs may benefit from the emerging socio-cultural perspective in the KM field. It is suggested that, since INGOs are centrally positioned to assume the role of information hubs in the development field, they are likely to gain from re-thinking KM as a concept that reaches beyond formal organisational boundaries and facilitates innovative forms of collaboration between development actors.

Keywords: Knowledge Management, Knowledge Sharing, International NGOs, Development, Discourse, Power

The International Journal of Knowledge, Culture and Change Management, Volume 7, Issue 11, pp.65-72. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 587.356KB).

Helena Heizmann

Department of International Communication, Macquarie University, Sydney, NSW, Australia

Helena Heizmann holds an MPhil in Information Studies and has written her Master’s thesis on the subject of Knowledge Management in International Development NGOs. She is currently pursuing a PhD in International Communication at Macquarie University, Sydney (Australia). Her research interests center around the topics of Knowledge Management, Intercultural Communication, Organisational culture, and Communities of Practice.

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